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Green Schools: California Greening

In the spring I continued my journey in search of best green practices in California public and private schools. Here are stories of four remarkable schools making a difference, in order I visited them: Katherine Delmar Burke School, Drew School, Midland School, Glenview Elementary School, and Rosa Parks Elementary School.


1. Katherine Delmar Burke School:  Inspiring Students to Action


Green Schools: The Midwest

Thus far my travels on the Green Schools Express have not taken me to my homeland in the Midwest, but I anticipate making a journey there in September.  To incorporate the middle of the country on my map of green schools, I am beginning with this wonderful, "virtual" visit to the Olney Friends School in Ohio.  Stay tuned for more reports this year.

1. Olney Friends School: An Emerging Environmental Mission

Green Schools: The East Coast Again

In late March I made another trip to the East Coast in search of best practices among a dozen schools in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, New York, and Central New Jersey.  Traveling on a chilly spring week with snow still on the ground in some parts, I visited the following schools in order of their appearance:  1. Berkshire School, 2. Hotchkiss School, 3. Millbrook School, 4. New Canaan Country School, 5. Riverdale Country School, Fieldston School, and the Green Schools Alliance, 6. Princeton Academy, 7. Willow School, 8. Lawrenceville School, and 9. Princeton Day School.  This trip concluded my initial round of visits on the Green Schools Express.

Green Schools: Mid-Winter Explorations

In February and March I visited a number of schools, colleges and organizations around the country in Maryland, Virginia and California.  Here are their stories about environmental sustainability.  The reports are presented in the order visited: Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore, MD; Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education MAEOE; Collegiate School, Richmond, VA; San Francisco Friends School, CA; Athenian School, CA; Saint Mark's School, VA.


1.  Bryn Mawr School:  Growing Organically

Green Schools: Southern California

In January 2011 I visited ten schools in the Southern California in search of best practices in environmental sustainability.  The reports on my visits appear in order of my itinerary and include:  1.  Pasadena Polytechnic School, 2. Environmental Science and Technology High School, 3. Marlborough School, 4. Environmental Charter High School, 5. Windward School, 6. Crossroads School, 7. Turning Point School, 8. Besant Hill School, 9. Thacher School, and 10. Cate School.

The Greening of Head-Royce School

The Greening of Head-Royce:  One School’s Journey Toward Sustainability

The Challenge We Face

On a warm, spring day in Berkeley in 2006, my wife Helen and I arranged an early viewing of the just-released film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”  For a long time I had felt a growing concern about the state of our environment and the rapid, significant change in the climate that was both observable over my lifetime and well-documented by scientists.  Having read Al Gore’s 1992 analysis of the environmental issue, Earth in the Balance, when it first came out, I felt I already knew something about the topic.  But I was unprepared for my strong, emotional reaction. As I said to Helen on the walk home from the theater, “that was a profoundly depressing movie.”  “Well,” she observed, “you could have that reaction, or you could do something about it.  The last time I checked, you were a school principal, and you have a bully pulpit.  Why don’t you use it?”  That was exactly the kind of practical advice I needed.  Then in my twenty-second year as the Head of Head-Royce School, a K-12, coeducational private independent school with 800 students in Oakland, California, I decided to make working on environmental sustainability my top personal and professional priority.  And this is the story of how we changed Head-Royce, in a systemic way, to become a model green school.<--break->

Green California Schools Summit

Green California Schools Summit, “Green Schools: More Important Than Ever!

Pasadena, CA, December 9, 2010


The fourth annual Green California Schools Summit in Pasadena brought together 250 people from all over the state that is leading the nation in greening its school facilities.  The workshops focused on how to build, finance and operate environmentally sustainable schools. The California education system is the largest in the country—6.2 million students, 9324 schools, 1000 districts—and offers a model for other states to emulate in strategies to green schools.   The progress reported in energy efficiency in California public schools was breathtaking, despite the impact of the recession.  At the conference, educators also described the changing curriculum and student culture in green schools, a vital component in environmental sustainability.

Twenty-First Century Skills

Skills for 21st Century Learning

Not long ago, at the end of the 20th century, our nation’s educators were gripped in culture wars, debating the relative merits of curricular programs based on the Western canon versus those with a multicultural and global perspective.  And at the same time, the character education movement focused on how schools can and should shape our children’s values.  With the new century unfolding, the National Association of Independent Schools has embarked on the task of describing what the “schools of the future” will look like in our rapidly changing, interdependent world.  The focus can be summed up in a single word: skills.

Green Schools: Northern California

From my home base in Berkeley I am systematically visiting green schools in Northern California to document best practices.  Here are the schools I have visited thus far, in order of appearance: 1. Marin Country Day School, 2. Prospect Sierra School, 3. Castilleja School, 4. Marin Academy.


1. Marin Country Day School: An Inspirational Environmental Community

 Nearly a decade ago I served on the Board of Trustees of the Marin Country Day School, and I was eager to return and see how the school had grown.  Arriving on a brisk December morning to a warm and enthusiastic welcome from Head of School Lucinda Lee Katz and Board member Adam Willner, my former student at University High School in San Francisco, I was quickly reminded that MCDS is a remarkable school.   It is full of 550 engaged K-8 students, and teachers and parents who live the School’s mission that “inspires children to love learning…..nurtures a deep senses of respect and responsibility….and challenges them to envision and work toward a better world.”  In the course of my morning, it also became clear that since my time on the Board, MCDS has embraced and implemented a vision of environmental sustainability that is inspirational.

Attuned to Nature

Attuned to Nature:  My Reverence for the Environment

My first memory of the natural world comes from a crisp, spring day when I, as a three year old, discovered the pussy willow buds bursting on long stems in the side yard of our home on Lincoln Street in a suburb of Chicago.   Sometime later a front blew in and toppled a tall pole supporting a large vine.  And in early summer while riding my tricycle in the neighborhood, I felt the vacuum blast of a tornado that ripped through the town, uprooting trees and sending my family into the basement for shelter.  These were the first moments in my life’s journey becoming attuned to nature.

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